Thursday, June 28, 2007

Laptop. Dining room.

I am sitting at our dining room table, looking out upon our street and front yard, typing happily away online. Yes, I'm that cool. Installed the wireless "thingy" today so I can now go anywhere in the house and get on the Internet. Things this would be cool for:

In bed. Sick, or whatever. You never know!
Outside, when Roman is playing and I have things to do.
Grad class work, anywhere in the house.
Kitchen, to look stuff up. This happens to me more than you think.
Bathroom! Hee, hee.

So, nothing else new and exciting. Except, did I mention I upgraded to a laptop? Doug found an excellent deal at a store in Garden City that was advertising on craigslist.com. I can scrap on Photoshop Elements so much faster now. When I save something, it doesn't take 5 minutes. Really, that's how long it was taking sometimes. Plus, I found that being on a cart, or as next year will be, far away from the printer, I can just type stuff up on this, bring it home, and print it. Won't be dependent on ever-changing computers in 3 different rooms. And with 2 grad classes, I will be doing a lot of typing and research, and can do it "wherever." And lastly, it'll be great to do the lineups for the swim team right there at practice, instead of writing stuff down, and then getting home and calling the other coach because of issues. Hooray for technology!

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Semi-independent living

Had a meeting with Tom tonight, who heads the SIL portion of Growth Works. This would be basically 16-17 year olds who need a stable environment and guidance in life skills. Basically, in this scenario, at the least, we would be "house providers," which would be our official name. Doug calls it a "hotel with rules." We would not be guardians, we would not be foster parents, we would just be providing a place to stay, meals, and support as much as we want. Tom said the purpose of SIL is to be as little impact on the adults as possible. This was not what we were prepared for, so we asked if we could be more involved. As much as we want to be, was the reply.

Growth Works has 3 people who would coordinate an SIL kid's life. It is a requirement that the kid be working, going to school, or both if they can handle it. They have a person who helps plan the kid's education (selections of classes at school, trade school/community college/college, etc). They have a person who coordinates employment, usually as close to the living place as possible. We were deemed an excellent location for that, with lots of fast food restaurants, a mall, and a couple strip malls within a short drive/long walking distance. And the third person, Tom, is like the manager - helps do everything else such as dr. appointments, shopping for clothes, and anything else the kid needs to do. Like I said, as little impact on the "house providers" as possible.

We asked, what if we wanted to be more involved? Like shopping, everyday stuff, etc. Tom said we were welcome to be as involved as everyone is comfortable with, but sometimes (like dr. appts) we can't unless it's an emergency - we are not authorized to allow medical treatment. Tom is. The only thing we can legally do is register the kid for school, and even that requires a special piece of paper from GW.

The upside, and what we believe we can definitely do - it would be our responsibility, as "house providers," to teach the boy basic skills of living. Examples given by Tom were: Clean his room. Help with chores around the house. Do his own laundry. Go to a bank. Open a bank account. Learn to grocery shop. Cut coupons. Pay (minor) bills. Begin to budget. The skills of life that most of these kids have not experienced, due to dysfunctional family/environment. The idea that if the kid were to walk out our door on his 18th birthday, he could essentially earn a minimum wage paycheck and know what to do with it. Be a productive citizen, I call it.

We asked Tom, as we signed the papers qualifying us to host an SIL child (not that we'll have a 16-17 year old; there's also the younger set we still have to do foster paperwork for), did he have a child already in mind for us? He laughed and said he didn't, but he was sure Sarah probably had 3 or 4 kids in the back of her mind. He would be meeting with her tomorrow to talk about our meeting.

Lastly, Tom took a tour of our house to make sure we had the facilities to provide for a child in our home (we do). And then an approximation of our inflow and outflow of $$ to make sure that we can pay our own bills, and would not be using the stipend provided for the boy for our own uses. We passed that too. If we didn't, I suppose we should have other things to worry about!

Monday, June 25, 2007

Minor skinned knee... major pansy.

Roman and I had a fabulous day at home today. Lazy morning, one trip to a store, he actually fell asleep at naptime, and played in the pool in the backyard for awhile too. I got a lot of things crossed off my "to do" list and was pretty happy. So there we were, me doing some little things and Roman screwing around, kicking up his feet while his hands were on the footstool, sliding up and off it... the usual boy stuff. And then... disaster!

"Mom, look at me!" He went up on the footstool with his hands, and came down with his right knee directly on top of his plastic water gun on the floor. The thing shattered, cutting his knee in 2 places and giving him a lot of scratches. He fell apart, half upset over the loss of his water gun, half because it hurt so bad and there was BLOOD. I don't believe he has ever really bled before. I tried hard not to laugh, but he was such a drama king about it all.

So we were playing doctor in the bathroom when Daddy got home. Roman crying, me trying to wipe up his cuts, and through it all... Roman tells Daddy through his tears that we made Kool-Aid. Yes, it's the little things that makes a childhood, isn't it?

Well, Roman wanted to be "up up" the rest of the evening, was afraid to walk with his 2 Band-Aids on his knee (well, if they were my cuts I wouldn't have put any on), and kept asking when the hurt would go away. By dinnertime he had forgotten about it. The one other funny thing that occurred was when Daddy said it would be the first of many skinned knees because boys do that, and Roman said - "I want to be a girl!"

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Island, party, & SIL

Mackinac Island. Went there yesterday with Roman. We're pretty sure he liked the ferry trip the best... "A really fast boat! That goes this fast!" (as he moves his hands and arms as fast as he can). He was a doll all weekend, just such fun to be around. Only had one real disciplinary action to take and that was Saturday night, when all his following-direction patience was gone. Otherwise he played with new friends at the campground, stayed up until 10pm eating marshmallows, and got a new bike. Yes, got a new bike. We got him on the Tigger 12" frame and couldn't stop laughing, it was like he was on a midget-bike. He has grown so much! Since the Big K (formerly known as K-Mart) was just 5 min. up the road, and we had to go there anyway (forgot a pillow!), we went ahead and bought him a 16" Hot Wheels bike.

Mackinac was the same through Doug's and my eyes, but having Roman experience it was no end of fun. The horses, the bikes, the whole atmosphere he found pretty neat. He liked to be in town where the action (and ice cream) was. He also enjoyed pointing out every horse poop pile on the street. Our favorite line came from our tour driver, however -"watch out for puddles. It hasn't rained today."

We had to get up and go this morning, however, because Roman had a birthday party to attend at Build-A-Bear. It was his first birthday party with friends, and so we didn't want him to miss it. He has brought home a brown bear with "Surf's Up" t-shirt & red shorts named Jake. Partly for his friend, and partly because one of the horses was named Jake, which Roman thought was cool. Not funny (I was corrected by the boy), but cool. After the bear building, they all went down to the food court and had one of those huge cookies. Lindsay blew out her candle, opened presents, they all had part of the cookie. Nice and simple, but Roman was ready to go home after that.

Last in news for you, on Friday as we traveled up North we got a call from Tom, who is in charge of the SIL program, or "semi-independent living," at Growth Works. We had gotten our police clearances this past Tuesday and so are ready for the next steps. SIL is the program for 16-17 year olds who don't truly meet "foster care" but can't be on their own. Tom is coming to our house Tuesday evening to do his version of the homestudy, talk with us, and have us fill out a few more papers. I think the choice is going to have to come soon on whether we want a 16-17 year old, or hold out for someone younger like 14 or 15. There are pros and cons to both, which I won't go into right now, but which we have debated almost endlessly. So we'll speak with Tom Tuesday and see what he has to say about it.

So just lots of laundry for me to catch up on tomorrow, and also need to shop for a baby shower I'm attending next Sunday. Roman wants to play on "starwars.com" so I said we could do that. After a few days away, he likes to settle back into his toys at home.

Monday, June 18, 2007

Organizing and throwing away, part two

Taking a break currently from my newest cleaning-out job - the cupboards and filing cabinet of my desk area in the basement. I haven't opened a file drawer, except to dump my paystubs, in about 18 months. I haven't cleaned out the cupboards - just added to them - since I moved my stuff into them in the Fall of 2003. Yes, 2003. I was thinking it's only been a couple years, until you actually put that year down in print.

I have filled a big black garbage bag already; well, not filled, but made it almost too heavy to carry. Pounds of paper are amazing. And old magazines, and just... crap. I have completed my 2 filing cabinet drawers, and my two upper cupboards. Now the real work begins; my scrapbooking corner cupboard (which is deep and holds a LOT), and 2 more regular-sized cupboards. But oh, the accomplishments. And I have found 3 things I had thought were lost forever, so that's exciting.

ROMAN REPORT: He is off to his Baba & Grandpa's today through Wed. morning, for a sleepover with Iris, my niece. On Tuesday they are having their "birthday outing" (had to wait for the weather to get good) to the Windy City. Yup, Chicago. Going to take the electric train in, visit the Aquarium, have lunch, and take the train home again. On Wednesday they have a little class for 4-5-year-olds at Sarett Nature Center on owls, I think. Hence why I'm getting so much cleaning done!

HILLBILLY REPORT: My Dad and I went to the NASCAR race on Sunday at MIS Speedway. Oh man, was it great. Got me excited about racing all over again. We met the nicest people, had darn good seats (a little higher up we could've seen the back stretch, but all corners were viewable and we saw right down into the pits). We sat in turn 4. And man, the noise is AWESOME. Sun was a bit too much, so we left around lap 110. We just baked, no clouds in the sky and very little breeze. But fun nonetheless.

I picked myself a new driver, #25, Casey Mears. I was feeling the stress of not having one - the last 2 I liked both died. Really. #28 Davey Allison in a helicopter crash, and #3 Dale Earnhardt, who died at the end of the Daytona 500 in 2001. But race fans meet & greet with the question, "So, who's your driver?" and I decided I needed a new one. He's young & cute, drives for a good team. I also like the name Casey. So there you have it.

Doug got to the driving range for a couple hours and also did some errands he had been putting off, but he reports that was exactly what he wanted to do on Father's Day - do what he wanted, without wife & kid in tow. :) I completely understand. My Mom & Roman played in his little pool, went hunting for "Crocs" but were not successful. A great day was had by all.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Organizing, cleaning out

My favorite things to do, and that's what's left at work now. I got the happy news 2 days ago that I would have a room - the same room - for the 3 hours I teach next year. Even better, I don't have a homeroom OR sixth hour so I will never have to collect money, pass out permission slips, or be responsible for report cards. Ah, the glories. Seniority has finally worked in my favor, too, because I am sharing my room with another teacher - a full-timer - but I was told that as/if my schedule increases, I will remain in the same room and she will be bumped somewhere else. Again, the beauty.

I don't think anyone can possibly imagine the frustrations and limitations of working from a 3-shelf cart for three years. Not having anywhere to store projects, or colored pencils, or any other supplies. Forgetting things in your office and having to run back, sometimes in the middle of class, to get it. Writing yourself notes to do things, and losing them amongst your files. It's a wonder I haven't lost more assignments.

The room I will have has its pros and cons. It's the largest room in the building. It is an old art room, so it has 2 sinks, an eyewash station, and storage like you wouldn't believe. Shelves upon drawers upon cupboards. It has a great view of the playground. It's awkwardly-shaped, though, a rectangle - difficult to teach and arrange things with a teacher's desk. It does have a door to the outside, and it's one of the closest to the new parking lot we're getting this summer. However, I'm also farthest away from... just about everything and everyone else. It's the dreaded "D" wing. I'll get a whole lot done, let's just say, because absolutely NO ONE will come visit. But that also includes administration!

So to prepare for the move, I am cleaning out again. Not like I have that much anyway, having 2 shelves and a filing cabinet to my name. Went through all my files today and recycled, rearranged, and organized. Moved all my binders down there already. Packed up my desk drawers, too. Tomorrow is a half-day so I will spend the couple hours in the afternoon moving and labeling things in my new room for keeping. I also get to reclaim a podium that I lent out 3 years ago, which pleases me. I also get a "real" desk (with drawers that hold file folders!) and not an old wooden one that I've been dealing with for 3 years. I just couldn't be more pleased. And those boxes in our storage unit... I finally get to unpack those and bring back books, posters, and other fun things that I've missed. I get to decorate a bulletin board again. Life just couldn't be happier right now. Unless, of course, it was Friday afternoon and school was officially over!

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

A 4th birthday

The birthday boy had a wonderful day. He didn't realize it was his birthday - we deliberately neglected to mention it last night. When we told him this morning, his eyes widened with surprise and he breathed, "it is?!" We gave him one gift this morning (a book about pirates that he liked in a store) but he had to wait for the rest until after preschool. He exclaimed over the decorated dining room (streamers in the window, balloons from the chandelier, the works) and said "I love it!"

At preschool we brought brownies, and since Miss Marcie had already planned ice cream as their special treat today, they had a wonderful celebration. Roman reported to me that they sang for him, but then told my mom that they didn't, so who knows. Anyway, as we came home Roman clearly understood the importance of "all about me." He requested to watch Sleeping Beauty & to eat dinner downstairs "because it is my birthday."

Daddy got home about 10 min. after we started the video and immediately the pestering began to open gifts. We did so and Roman was thrilled. He was especially pleased with the X-Wing fighter we got for his "bendy guys" (how he refers to them) Star Wars Galactic Heroes. He also got a new Thomas because his was all scratched up and he was very pleased.

Dinner was thus eaten downstairs, watching a new Thomas video, eating chicken nuggets, popcorn, and cherries as requested. Then we trooped upstairs for cake & ice cream, again vanilla with strawberry frosting and sprinkles. Roman ate the ice cream and frosting, like a good kid would.

He did have a bath and played his "Cars" computer game for a few minutes before bed. Had a hard time falling asleep because of his magical day. Between all the well-wishers who called, too, it was a busy evening! I did take pictures but as I had one last set of papers to grade this evening to get caught up, I didn't get to uploading them in the computer. Maybe tomorrow.

Thursday, June 07, 2007

Musings

We asked Roman today what he would like for his birthday dinner. It took some coaxing, but we finally got the following menu: Chicken nuggets. Popcorn. Cherries. Cake & ice cream. That's all.

We laughed, but it's actually pretty well-balanced so we'll go ahead and do it. I'll be a baking fool this weekend, between birthday cake and brownies for his treat at preschool. Plus wrap his presents! I'm getting almost as excited as he is!

As for the next addition, we'll call "the teen," things have hit a snag called Wayne County bureaucracy. Our clearance was going to be ready last Friday. Doug arrived to pick it up - the lady had called in sick. It will be ready Monday. So Doug returned Monday (note no phone call - apparently there is no phone number, because when he hit "0" to speak with the operator it disconnected him). Our clearances still weren't ready, and after 20 min. of arguing Doug finally convinced them to do both of our clearances again. But then, he couldn't be given mine. I have to pick it up myself. And Doug's name was spelled wrong anyway. So we both have to go BACK to the FIA office to have them done. Again. I was amused that he could request my background check without ID, but couldn't be given it. Anyway, we are curious to see which route really is easiest - Russia or Wayne County. My money's on Russia in the end.

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Another trip to the ER

I didn't mention in the last post that while the adults were relaxing, Roman had thrown up twice at my in-laws'. He wasn't real hungry on Sunday but by Monday was fully recovered. Well... we thought it was maybe heat exhaustion, or not enough liquids, but it was something worse!

We got it Monday night. Both Doug and I, taking turns in the bathroom while Roman slept soundly. Turns out my MIL was sick that night too. Roman apparently got a NOROVirus, aka "the cruise ship disease." Vomiting and often diarrhea, comes and goes quickly. Well, in everyone's case but mine.

Here's the "too much information" details: by 12:30am I couldn't get off the toilet, and had to use a wastebasket for the upper end. It wouldn't stop. I couldn't control either end. Anything that went into my stomach (including PeptoBismol, water, anything) came right back up. By about 1:15am I told Doug to call an ambulance. That was about my last coherent thought. I didn't want Roman to have to get up and go to the hospital and sit around while I got fluids, but I knew I was in a bad way. I got real hot & sweaty, would vomit, and then get chills. Then do the whole thing over again every 15 minutes or so. When the ambulance arrived around 2am they took my BP and it was 100/50 and she couldn't find my pulse, it was so weak. So off I went to the hospital in my first, and hopefully only, ambulance ride. Just the movement from the toilet to the gurney made me vomit. Again when I had to get off and get on the new bed at the hospital. And then again, just for fun. I got 1-1/2 bags of saline and only felt marginally better, but they sent me home.

Home at 6am. I called my parents and asked for help with Roman - the boy was feeling great, but Doug and I were dead tired. My Dad came by noon. I slept a good part of the day Tuesday and Wednesday and almost everything is better - Dad went home this afternoon. I'm eating (chicken, applesauce, oatmeal, and mashed potatoes) and feel pretty rested. Still wrestling with diarrhea, but one dose of Pepto tonight seems to have calmed my tummy down. Bless the man who came up with wet-wipes for kids in place of toilet paper, it has been a luxury having those!

We thought at first we had food poisoning, but a call to the Dept of Health told us they've been tracking an outbreak of this virus the last couple weeks, and sent over detailed instructions on how to cleanse our house. So another early night for me, and hopefully I can make it through work tomorrow!

Sunday, June 03, 2007

Every once in awhile...

...parents need to:

Drop the kid off at a set of grandparents', head over to a friends' house, and do this:



And then join some more friends, to do this:


And then go back to the original friends' house, to do this.



Ahhh. What a great weekend.